US uninsured rate drops to 13.4%

Uninsured rate down nearly four percentage points since late 2013

May 06, 2014 8:44 IST | India Infoline News Service
The uninsured rate for US adults was 13.4% in April, down from 15% in March. This is the lowest monthly uninsured rate recorded since Gallup and Healthways began tracking it in January 2008, besting the previous low of 13.9% in September of that year.

The uninsured rate peaked at 18% in the third quarter of 2013, but has consistently declined since then. This downward trend in the uninsured rate coincided with the health insurance marketplace exchanges opening in October 2013, and accelerated as the March 31 deadline to purchase health insurance coverage approached -- and passed -- for most uninsured Americans. The Obama administration decided in late March to extend the deadline to April 15 for those who had already begun the enrollment process.

The uninsured rates for the first quarter of 2014 and the month of March are averages for the entire quarter and month, and do not necessarily reflect the uninsured rate for the day of the March 31 deadline. The April estimate better captures the impact of late sign-ups since all interviewing occurred after that critical date.

These data are based on more than 14,700 interviews with Americans from April 1-30, 2014, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

Uninsured rate falls most among Blacks, Hispanics, Lower-Income Americans

The uninsured rate was lower in April than in the fourth quarter of 2013 across nearly every key demographic group. The rate dropped more among blacks than any other demographic group, falling 7.1 percentage points to 13.8%. Hispanics were expected to disproportionately benefit from the Affordable Care Act -- commonly referred to as "Obamacare" -- because they are the subgroup with the highest uninsured rate. Although the percentage of uninsured Hispanics, at 33.2%, is down 5.5 points since the end of 2013, this rate is still the highest by far across key demographic groups.

Similarly, the uninsured rate among lower-income Americans -- those with an annual household income of less than $36,000 -- has also dropped by 5.5 points, to 25.2%, since the fourth quarter of 2013.

Young Americans were an important target in public outreach efforts for enrollment because they can potentially subsidize the cost of insurance for those who are older and presumably less healthy. The uninsured rate among 18- to 25-year-olds fell 4.5 points, to 19%, from the fourth quarter of 2013. However, the uninsured rate declined even more among 35- to 64-year-olds, falling 4.8 points to 13.2%. The uninsured rate among 26- to 34-year-olds continued to decline, but at a rate more similar to the national average. These data do not show a disproportionately high rate of decline among younger Americans.

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